Buying an asset back at a higher price always looks like bad business, whether it’s a company – or a football player.
So which organisation has made a worse deal this week? Giant brewer AB InBev, who bought South Korea’s Oriental Brewery back for $5.8bn? Or Chelsea, who bought Benfica midfielder Nemanja Matic for £21m?
In absolute terms, it’s AB InBev, no question. The company sold OB for $1.8bn in 2009 – so an extra $4bn was needed to get it back.
For Chelsea, Matic was valued at around £5m in a deal in 2011 – so an extra £16m, which is pocket change in this market.
However, in relative terms, Chelsea have lost out more. Matic’s value went up by over 4x in just three years – ie 1.4 times per year, whereas OB’s value roughly tripled in 5 years, going up 0.64 times per year.
Yet in essence, it’s a false question – both the business and the player are different from when they were sold. Another way of looking at it is: what would you need to spend in this market to get something of similar value? When in the summer transfer market Manchester United spent £27m of a rather out-of-sorts Fellaini from Everton, and Arsenal spent £42.5m on Ozil, this doesn’t look like overpaying.
As Andy Brassell said on the BBC: “We should not be too hard on Chelsea for letting him go in the first place, though. His improvement in the last 18 months has been breathtaking.”